There is a growing interest for access to fresh, healthy, organic and sustainable food. This has led to the popularity of “urban agriculture”, which is the practice of cultivating, processing and distributing food in or around urban areas. It can involve keeping hens in residential areas - urban hens - as a means of easy access to fresh eggs which has been taking place in a variety of urban settings in communities throughout Canada.
The Town of Georgina passed the Urban Hens By-law Number 2022-0020 (LI-3) on March 30, 2022. Residents within the residential or rural zone (rural zone – having less than 0.4 hectares in lot area) are now able to obtain a licence to keep backyard hens if they meet the requirements of the by-law.
Avian Influenza (bird flu)
Avian Influenza, commonly known as the bird flu, is a viral infection that spreads easily and quickly among birds. This virus can affect several species of food-producing birds (chickens, turkeys, quails, guinea fowl, etc.), as well as pet and wild birds.
Find more information about Avian Influenza.:
Signs and symptoms
Infected birds may show one or more of the following signs:
- lack of energy, movement or appetite
- decreased egg production
- swelling around the head, neck and eyes
- coughing, gasping for air or sneezing
- nervous signs, tremors or lack of coordination
- sudden death
In rare cases, humans can become infected. Find more information about risks to humans on Health Canada's website.
Keep your birds safe
Follow these tips to protect your backyard chickens from the bird flu:
- prevent contact with wild birds and other animals
- frequently clean poultry coops, waterers, feeders, your clothing and your boots
- spot the signs of Avian Influenza and report early to a veterinarian or the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA)
- limit exposure to visitors
- separate birds, their water and food from wild birds
Find more information about protecting your flock from bird flu on the Canadian Food Inspection Agency website.
Prior to purchasing hens, ensure a licence is obtained in accordance with the by-law by completing the application process.
Applications can be submitted by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or dropped off at the Civic Centre at 26557 Civic Centre Rd.
Application form (265.94 KB)
Urban hens by-law number 2022-0020 (LI-3) (3.4 MB)
All applicants are required to provide a declaration in the application form that they have reviewed the following education materials:
1. "Bird Health Basics Video" and "Bird Health Basics Fact Sheet" by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
2. "Biosecurity Recommendations for Small Flock Poultry Owners" by OMAFRA.
3. "Small Flock Poultry: Raising Healthy Birds" by OMAFRA.
4. "Rodent Control in Livestock and Poultry Facilities" by OMAFRA.
5. "Keeping your family healthy with backyard poultry, including chickens and ducklings" by the Ministry of Health.
On March 30, 2022, Council received a staff report (6.15 MB) and approved allowing the keeping of hens in urban areas in the community. Council approved the Urban Hens licensing by-law that will licence, regulate and govern urban hens, and approved an amendment to the Exotic Animal By-law to recognize permission regarding the keeping of urban hens.
On Nov. 27, 2019, following the results of the consultation program, Council received a staff report and approved the recommendation to approve a by-law to enact a 24-month pilot project that will see a call out for applications to a maximum of three per ward, a 100-metre separation distance between homes and that all participants be required to attend a mandatory educational session. Council also approved a recommendation to amend the Exotic Animal By-law to recognize the implementation of a pilot project.
On Aug. 14, 2019, Council received a staff report regarding the regulation of hens in residential areas and directed staff to a conduct a public consultation program to better understand the issues and attitudes of residents about allowing urban hens.
In 2016, Council received a deputation from a resident encouraging the Town to regulate hens in residential areas.
Current Status of Zoning By-law and Animal Control Licensing By-law
Section 5.24 of the Zoning By-law only allows hens on ‘Rural’ (RU) zoned properties with a minimum lot area of 0.4 hectares (1.0 acre). This severely restricts the potential to keep hens in urban/settlement areas.
Animal Licensing By-law 2003-0072 specifies that no person, other than a veterinarian is permitted to keep poultry, except on a ‘Rural’ (RU) zoned property.